Lawrence, Herbert, 15, Police Constable.

A group of men beat up a policeman.


Hertfordshire Mercury, 4th January 1913.

At the Ware Police Court on Tuesday, James Charles Day (24), labourer, of Douro House, Standon, and Edward Swallow (25), a private in the 1st Northants Regiment, whose house is at Standon, were charged on remand with assaulting PC Lawrence, while in the execution of his duty, at Standon, on December 23rd.  Both pleaded guilty.

PC Lawrence stated that on the night of 23rd December, at 11:40pm, he was on duty at Standon, near the Town Farm, when he saw a man named Harvey, who spoke to him and, whilst he was speaking to him the two defendants came up.  Swallow had a half-gallon jar in his hand and said to the witness “Have a drink”, at the same time handing him the jar, but he told him he did not want anything to drink.  Swallow then placed the jar in the road and, coming up to the witness, said “You are the ……………………. who did me in once”.  He then pushed the witness with his hands, but he kept him off, and Swallow’s brother and Day’s father then came down the street.

Swallow’s brother and Day took hold of Swallow and took him a few yards up the street towards his home, but soon afterwards all three of them returned.  A lot of bad language was used by the parties, and Swallow struck the witness with his fist in the chest several times.  This went on for a few minutes, and eventually the witness knocked Swallow down with his hands.  He got up again and came to hit the witness but he took hold of him, held him back, and asked him if he would go quietly if he allowed him to go.

While the witness was doing this, Day said “Let’s let the ………………… have it”, and Day then struck him a violent blow in the left eye, and struck him four or five times on the body, at the same time as he had hold of Swallow.  This caused him to release his hold of Swallow who then commenced to hit the witness.  He got Swallow to the ground and, as the witness saw that he was likely to be seriously injured, he took his truncheon out and struck both defendants on the arms and heads with it.  This kind of thing went on for some minutes.  He then threw both defendants to the ground, and thus had a chance to blow his whistle.

Swallow then got up and ran at him with his head, but he stepped aside and Swallow ran his head against a brick wall and fell to the ground.  Day then ‘came for’ him and, as he held up his truncheon, Day pulled at it and the strap broke.  He got hold of Day and pulled him down.  A night stick which the witness had been carrying before the disturbance commenced was handed to him by a man named Harvey, and both defendants tried to get it away.  He then knocked Swallow down, and Day came and struck him and, seeing that the gate of the Falcon yard was open, he dragged Day into it in order to get him away from Swallow, but before he could close the gate Swallow and Harvey came into the yard.  He struggled with Day and, when Swallow came up and got hold of both him and Day, they all fell to the ground.  Harvey tried to get Swallow of the top of the witness and, when he got up, he knocked Day down again.

Mr Houchin then came up and assisted the witness, as he was completely done up.  Day was very violent and behaved like a madman.  He got hold of him and put jiu-jitsu pressure upon him, which cooled him down.  The defendants then became quiet, and he secured a conveyance and, with assistance, took them to Ware Police Station.  The witness’s cape, tunic and trousers were considerably damaged, mud and water having gone completely through them.

On the following day, he could not get out of bed and he was unable to stand, and sent for Dr Ewing who at once placed  him on the sick list.  He had to remain in bed for three days owing to his injuries and was not able to come downstairs until the following Sunday.  His right hip bone, left leg, and right shoulder were injured, and he had since had severe pains in his stomach, and bruises had come out all over his body.  He also had a black eye.  At the present time he was in pain, and he would be on the sick list for some time yet.  Swallow said “He is not so bad as he makes out”, but neither of the defendants had any questions to ask.

Stephen Houchin, house decorator, of Standon, said he was indoors soon after 11:30pm when he heard a whistle blown twice.  He went to where the disturbance was occurring and got hold of Swallow, but another man ‘figured up’ at him.  He could see Lawrence on the ground, and Day was acting most violently towards him in the Falcon yard.  Another scrimmage followed, but the policeman had the best of it as he was on the top of them.  Day tried to kick Lawrence in the lower part of the body.  The witness assisted Lawrence to convey the men to Ware Police Station.

Miss Beatrice Hawken, of the Town Farm, Standon, stated that shortly after 11:30pm, she was in her bedroom when she heard a disturbance outside and, upon looking out of the window, she saw a man pushing a policeman, and there was a terrible struggle.  She also saw a soldier ‘make for’ the policeman, who backed up towards the gates of the Town Farm, and then she heard a whistle blown.  She at once rushed to her father’s bedroom, and he went out into the street.  The witness afterwards went into the road and saw Mrs Lawrence who said to her “They are killing my sweetheart”.  She then got her bicycle and rode in the direction of Puckeridge where she met the Constable from Braughing and gave him her bicycle in order to get to the scene of the disturbance.

Supt Smith said the defendants were brought to the Ware police Station by PC Lawrence and PC James at 1:00am on the 24th ultimate.  Lawrence was in an exhausted condition and was plastered from head to foot in mud.  His face was swollen, and one of his eyes blackened, and he complained of injuries to his leg and hip.  He was completely done up.  The witness charged the prisoners, and they made no reply.  It would be some time before the constable would be able to resume duty.

PC Field spoke of putting the defendants in the cells when they were brought to the police station.  Day then said “If I get out in the morning I will go straight to that …………………… policeman at Standon, and will put him through it.  I will do for the ………………….., I will”.  The defendants had nothing to say in their defence.

The Chairman, after the Magistrates had retired, said it was a most cowardly and brutal assault and, although the men had not been in prison before, the least sentence they would pass was one of 3 months hard labour each.  They considered that PC Lawrence deserved commendation for the bravery he had displayed under the circumstances.  The Bench also wished to thank Miss Hawken for her promptitude, which was most commendable, and also Mr Houchin for the manner in which he had come forward to assist the police.

PC Lawrence said Miss Hawken’s conduct was especially to be admired as she had only been out of hospital for 4 days before this occurrence.  The Chairman said to PC Lawrence “I hope you will soon recover from your injuries”.



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